View Full Version : My 9b is good,but 8b poor?

phil in sofla
06-13-2003, 02:09 PM
Trying to understand this difference in my play in 9-ball and 8-ball.

9-ball is the preferred game among my friends and at the phs I play regularly, and I do play 9-ball more often than 8-ball, which for me is mainly restricted to league night, and one friend on that team whom I play sets to 5 for low stakes a couple times a week.

My 9-ball game is really coming along. I'm able to count on pocketing almost everything, and I'm getting the shape that allows me to run out. Just last night, an older 3-C player who hangs out there and sees me play told me he had never seen me play so well, that I was doing everything right and playing like a champion. That was over a 3 to 4 hour period of mainly running out nicely, so it wasn't just a good rack or set. (Not breaking and running multiple racks, but whenever I'd get to the table, on the 2 or on the 5, I could get out.)

Recently, during the league hiatus, my 8-ball game has been as bad as my 9-ball game has been good, at least with this one opponent. Normally we are pretty closely matched, but over the past two weeks, I've been going multiple sets and winning only 1 or 2 games (not per set, but in total), some lost on the schneid, 0-5. Mainly, I'm losing these games rather than being dominated by superior play, generally with a good chance to run out, but failing along the way. Shots that I'd take for granted and just make in 9-ball look harder and feel more tentative in 8-ball.

I don't get this at all. Another friend suggested that maybe I let my stroke out a little more for 9-ball, because of the more extensive travel around the table you do for shape in that game. Or maybe the shape in 8-ball, which I'm assuming is easier, isn't, because of the opponent's balls? And obviously, psychology could be coming into play, although not on the money angle, since the stakes are low and I play 9-ball the same way without trouble. In fact, when we are out of time for another 8-ball set, we play $2/game 9-ball, and I always catch up during this time.

I can understand how you could play good 8-ball and not so good 9-ball, but I don't really understand the reverse. Gotta get the improvements I'm seeing in the one game into the other in time for league to start (next week!). Any ideas on what is causing this difference in play, and how to fix it?

06-13-2003, 02:29 PM
Maybe you could focus better by pretending you're going from the 7 to the 8 in 9 ball instead of just a solid to another solid. Maybe you have the mentality that "Well if I screw up position I'll still have a shot on something." I guess just try and focus on making the shot and getting to that next specific ball. Maybe I'm off track but I hope that helps.

06-13-2003, 02:48 PM

Here's one way I can imagine your 9-ball improvement having a negative link to 8-ball:

Could it be that your runout 9-ball success has boosted your confidence to the point where you are making unwise runout attempts in 8-ball?

Remember, if you run the 1, 2, 3 and then miss the 4 in 9-ball, you may or may not leave your opponent a shot at that same 4-ball because you were pulling shape on the 5. In 8-ball, if you make something and then run 3 more before a miss, your opponent now has 7 targets and you have only 3. If I were your opponent, I would naturally expect to win that game almost independent of cueball position (assuming this was truly a failed runout, not a safety).


06-13-2003, 03:36 PM
Eight ball actually requires more precise cue ball shape than 9 ball, and puts a premium on position strategy similar to 14.1. While it might be easier to run a few balls in eight ball, there are usually a lot more problem shots, balls in bad rail position, balls that are locked up, and blocked pockets. The need to break out clusters, shoot combinations, kick to make blocked balls, and ability to control the cue ball after it caroms off other object balls are far more prevalent in eight ball than 9 ball.

Good straight pool players are usually good eight ball players.


06-13-2003, 09:03 PM
When you play 9B you always know which is your next ball. ie,you pot the 2, then the 3 and so on.
In 8B you have more ball choice.
Try and play for positions that give you choices on which ball to play.
If the balls are lying good and you have only one ball safe ,free the ball as early as possible.

Make a decision, then play the shot.

06-13-2003, 09:57 PM
I know it sounds trite, but when I am in a slump I try to focus back on the fundamentals.

1.Identify the problem balls first, and decide what you are going to do with them. Address these balls as early as you can.

2.Only plan 3 shots ahead and re-evaluate the pattern after each shot.

3. If you can't make a ball, try to control a pocket that your opponent needs.

4. Spiderman is exactly correct. If you run 5 of your balls off and then turn over an open table to your opponent, you have defeated yourself. It's that much more difficult to safe someone who has 7 balls to shoot at when you have only one or two to hide behind.

Sometimes when I don't have the break working for me, and depending on my opponent, I will go ahead and make a weaker break and leave a bitch of a cluster in the middle of the table. This makes it much tougher for him to run out, and gives him the opportunity to clear 4 or 5 balls and then turn the table over to me. Usually I will get 3 or 4 chances to break up the cluster, on a more open table. If I miss breaking up the cluster, He is still left with a problem when he gets back to the table.

If he is a good safety player, this can backfire, so I don't really advise it as a strategy, but depending on the opponent, it can work. /ccboard/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

Mostly, though, you just have to play through the slumps. It'll come back, it always does.


Ralph S.
06-14-2003, 07:38 AM
Phil, possibly position play may be a factor between the two games for you. What I mean by this is that<for me anyhow>, I see many players playing alot of multiple rail position shots in 9ball. I use them too, as many do. Could you possibly be trying too many of these type of position shots? I play alot of 8ball and use basic position atleast 70% of the time and everything works out fine. I aint the best with words, so read this a few times then think before you respond LOL.

Scott Lee
06-15-2003, 03:45 AM
Casey...Excellent response! I agree wholeheartedly...and additionally, as my students know, my main goal in working with them (especially in the first meeting), is to improve the "quality" of their stroke. That, in itself, leads to greater consistency on the table, and higher confidence, under pressure. Personally, I don't think the game you play has any bearing on your particular skill level. Good players can play any pool game skillfully, because they have developed the ability to "trust" their stroke...ino, they can hit the CB exactly where they believe they are aiming, and do it repeatedly, consistently, and call it up on demand, given the situation on the table, at the moment.

Scott Lee

06-15-2003, 06:17 AM
To a good player from a weaker player some observations:
I play 8 ball and only ocassionally 9 ball (usually with WW apa style).

1) like spidey said, the position play seems less tricky on 9 than 8.
2) in 8 ball, the decision is can a person run out.I have seen good players make this mistake. As spidey said, they run 5 balls, cannot run the other two and the 8 and this leaves the other person in control of the game.
3) In looking ahead as I improve, I see the big question of when to run and when to play safe. It is such a strategy game. i know that safety play is involved in 9 ball too, but to me it seems different because both people have the same balls.
4) 9 ball seems to be more of a shooter's game. If the person is a good shooter and has good position skills, they can run out.
5) 8 ball often adds breaking out clusters, more difficult position, and even choosing whether to play highs or lows when there is a choice, and more balls on the table to navigate around.
6)It is easier to drop balls on the 9 ball break than on the 8 ball break.

Even though I play 8 ball, the times I have played 9 ball, I could have run out if my position skills were a tad better, whereas in 8 ball, it seems more complex strategy is required in 8, and it will be a long time before I can run an 8 ball rack, even with decent shape skills.

Now, before you all murder me, this is just how it looks to someone with one year of playing who is just now getting better at potting and shape. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif


phil in sofla
06-16-2003, 12:59 AM
Thanks for the replies.

Played both 8 and 9 ball over the weekend, and watched for the differences. The problem in 8-ball came down to unforced errors -- I was in the game, had outs available, and just didn't get it done.

Part of it is that I need to play at a more controlled pace in 8 ball. In 9 ball, it seems every ball is more critical, and I bear down more. I'm taking each ball and each trip to the table in 8 ball too lightly, or at least at critical times in the end game. The social aspect of playing this guy is a part of it. I'm usually more focused in league matches, which begin again this week, so I'll have a gauge then.

06-16-2003, 11:02 AM

9 Ball Girl
06-16-2003, 12:26 PM
I haven't played 8 ball in about 6 months--all I've been playing is 9 ball and straight pool, but when I was playing 8 ball, I would think 3 balls ahead the way I do in 9 ball. But I didn't think that I was going to pocket 3 balls, I would look at say pocketing the 2 and then the 5 and then playing a safe on the 3. I do have to admit though that when I play 8 ball, I look for a runout and determine what my problem balls are. I'll start backwards after the break and look at where the 8 ball is and start looking at what my 7th pocketed ball will be, my 6th, and so on all the way til what my 1st pocket ball will be and then I start. That's how I decide which "suit" I'm going to start shooting at. You are right in the whole thing on analyzing the 8 ball table, although I think that you need position skills in 9 ball as well or for any game you play for that matter, IMO. As far as the killer instinct is concerned, I have it everytime I play, whether it be straight pool, 9 ball, last pocket, whatever. I know that running out is not always the way of going about it, but I think that as soon as anyone breaks in 8 ball or 9 ball, you look for a runout. The safes, I believe, come in when you have your problem balls or if there's a cluster that you'd want your opponent to break up so that you have BIH, etc. So my question to you is, "can a woman know her limitations?" /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

06-16-2003, 01:25 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote whitewolf:</font><hr> 9 ball is a 'shooter's game'. The person who can make the shots, especially the long ones, has an advantage as long as he can play safe and smart. Also, there is some element of luck: if one misses half way through the match, he can possibly recover. This is not true in 8 ball.
<font color="red">It sounds like you aren't an experienced 9 ball player. While there can be a degree of luck in 9 ball, the same can be said for most games of pool. I think the luck factor in 9 ball vs. 8 ball is about equal. In 9 ball, the more common thing is luck'ing in a ball. In 8 ball, it's common to luck position. If someone gets outta line in 8 ball, you can change your pattern to a "more conveniant" ball and continue on. BTW, missing in either 8 ball or 9 ball can be equally disasterous. </font color>

8 ball requires more position skills and less shot making ability. It requires more strategy.
<font color="red">I feel 8 ball requires LESS positional skills. You are usually moving the CB less and because you have options to pick a run-out pattern, it's easier to "connect the dots". In 9 ball, IMO, the person that plays better postion will win more games. Good position in 9 ball is crucial.
While 8 ball does require more strategy, 9 ball has certain nuances that 8 ball doesn't. For example, in 9 ball, you have to kick well (as there is only 1 object ball at all times)and accurately. The ability to return kick safe is a skill that can turn the tables when you get locked up. Kicking isn't a huge part of 8 ball. </font color>

When switching to 8 ball from 9 ball, you need to switch gears. In 9 ball, you only think 3 balls ahead. In 8 ball, you must get used to analyzing the table at all times, especially in the early stages. Don't pick up the cue and just start shooting as you would in 9 ball. 8 ball is very much like chess. There is offense and defense, trying not to state the obvious, but the key here is DEFENSE.
<font color="red">I think you need to play more 9 ball to appreciate the strategies involved. </font color>

God, I would love to be able to read Fred Agnir's mind (as his mindset is so determined to run out every time)
<font color="red">Me too. If the table looks run-able, I'm going for it. By the same token, if there is an ugly cluster with no breakout ball, I don't think too many people(Fred included)will be foolish enough to try to runout. </font color>
when his runs 4 balls and suddenly realizes that he is screwed. A penny for your thoughts Fred!!

When playing 8 ball (and 9 ball for that matter), just remember that "a man has got to realized his limitations". As this translates to 8 ball, don't let your ego get in the way. Play safe and smart, again and again, until this is ingrained in your mind, and then one day you will know when to run out and when to not. You have to have lots of patience to play 8 ball..... and a killer killer killer instinct. <hr /></blockquote>

<font color="red"> While I do agree with some of your points, some stuff sounds misinformed. Hopefully you'll realize this is just one opinion /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

Eric</font color>

06-16-2003, 03:25 PM

There is one other thing that I think is important to say about the difference between 8 ball and 9 ball.

When I play a lot of 9 ball and if I have an open shot, I get to be a "lazy thinker" because the runouts are usually pretty clear, and so it just takes a few moments to look the table over and start shooting. This gets to be a (bad) habit -rushing into the first shot.

8 ball takes more planning. I have to tell myself "stop and think", or just "think", before I hit the first shot - to avoid the my tendancy to rush into shooting, which is the lazy approach to pool.

I never start shooting until I have a plan. If I can plan out the table in my mind, it's easier to execute because having a plan breeds confidence. It helps me avoid a lot of mistakes before they happen.